Episode 67: Leverage
The party slowly, stealthily made their way through the streets of Uman and successfully retreated back to Whisper’s tower, outside the walls and across the Throm. They quickly set to work on trying to break the cipher protecting the contents of Madame Elethi’s ledger, knowing that their freedom depended on providing Bartok Brescht an alternative to declaring them responsible for the murder of nearly 50 people at Elethi’s tower. Yuna, Sirlius and Keen began working the cipher while Ara rested. They directed their young companion Reva to keep watch, and Whisper kept watch on Reva.
Some time later Magnus, still wearing the Hat of True Frog, stirred and began hopping about. Whisper caught him and removed the hat, restoring him to a fully-rested and rejuvenated spellsword. He spent some time examining the magical artefacts retrieved from Elethi’s vault, identifying their arcane natures. Several powerful items there were, but perhaps none so deadly - and unpredictable as the Wand of Wonder Sirlius recovered.
The night grew dark and cold, with low, heavy clouds soon blanketing the area in a thick layer of snow. The party worked for long hours, before Sirlius, tired and distracted by his new wand, gave up and went to sleep. Ara took over the watch for Whisper and Reva, who curled up to sleep also. It wasn’t until after the Black Hour that Keen had a breakthrough, and two hours later he had successfully broken the cipher. All that remained was to decode more than two hundred pages, looking for Elethi’s intelligence dossiers on the seven ruling merchant houses. The party decided to rest and tackle that fresh in the morning.
Sleep took the ruined tower, as Ara stood alone atop the battlements, observing the heavy snow and wondering in his way about the task Rillifane set before him. His peace was broken by a scream from Sirlius, who had bolted upright from a dead sleep. Visibly shaken, the tiefling told Ara of a harrowing nightmare that had caused great physical pain. They spoke quietly for a few minutes, before Sirlius attempted to return to slumber.
The dawn came grey and angry and cold, the snow continuing. The party awoke, and Sirlius related the details of his nightmare. Whisper, concern in her voice, revealed that she too had had a strangely potent dream. Yuna, quiet and withdrawn, had dreamt of their erstwhile companion Levani and was visibly disquieted by the experience.
Knowing the had a long day of working Elethi’s cipher to decode the ledger, the party decided to risk sending Whisper and Reva into the city to gather supplies: Ara had contracted a Dwarven smith named Kieriash to construct a set of bracers, which her brother was to enchant; they should be about done. Also, Magnus required alchemy supplies and laboratory equipment to begin working the residium to join Sirlius and Whisper to the party’s residium binding. The pair left for a long day of hiking the Grand Stair, and managed to sneak their way through the crowded gates of the city undetected, despite Reva’s near-catastrophic encounter with a mounted rider. On Artificer’s Row on the 4th Tier they found Kieriash’s Forge, and completed the transaction for Ara’s bracers. Reva openly gawped at his surroundings, including Kieriash’s full-blood ogre assistant. The young dwarf thanked the pair for their business, laughed at Whisper’s clever mimicry of Ara, and then broke several bones in her hand with an errant swing of her hammer. The pair quickly took their leave, a string of Dwarven profanity echoing behind them. It was clear the effects of the curse on the platinum with which Ara had paid for the bracers was still in effect. The spent the rest of the day locating and shopping for Magnus’s arcane and alchemical supplies.
At the tower, the work of decoding the ledger progressed steadily but slowly, and it was several hours before the party began to find what they were looking for: extensive bibliographical, tactical and intelligence notes on each of the ruling families. The ledger revealed a dark current of betrayals, assassination, extortion and blackmail amongst all the Merchant Houses going back centuries; not even House Brescht was entirely free of suspicious behaviour. It was clear that the contents of the ledger, should they be revealed, would be disastrous for the Houses. This was the leverage Brescht would need. Sirlius blackly noted that he began to understand Mera Maryndottir’s desire to see the Houses pulled down. Crazy as she was, it was clear that Uman’s ruling class was at best amoral and at worst overtly evil.
They worked long into the evening, while Ara continued to keep watch. The weather had continued throughout the day and at least a foot of snow surrounded the tower on all sides, and left small drifts under the broken roof of the third storey. Night had fallen when Ara spied movement on the west side of the tower: three figures moving quickly but stealthily across the snow directly towards them. He sounded the alarm, and the party made ready their defenses. The trio closed, their dark silhouettes all but invisible in the moonless night, and suddenly the top of the tower was engulfed in magical darkness. In response Ara simply leapt from the top of the tower, landing easily and rolling into a defensive stance directly in front of the enemy. He could see now they were three identical figures in pale leathers, with blue-white skin and thick white dreadlocks reaching past their shoulders: Drow. The leader drew two wicked, serpentine short swords and, barking something in an unknown language at the monk, leapt to attack. Ara called on the power of the Fist of the Storm, and a great screeching gale of storm encircled him, his foes and part of the tower.
Ara and the lead Drow traded blows, and the sting of the Drow’s poisoned blades lit Ara’s flesh on fire. The remaining Drow took a wide birth around the combatants. One, casting a spell, began to levitate up the side of the tower wall while the other dashed around its base, heading for the door. He nearly collided with Yuna, who was dashing through the snow to Ara’s aid, the shock and agony of his injuries echoing across the residium binding telepathy. His blade lashed out on instinct, catching her side, but the Aasimar ignored the foe, getting to range with Ara and filling the area with divine healing energy…
Intrigue Levels: rising
Umani City Politics rating: Lawful, Evil
Party Dreams: 6/6
RP Rating: Awesome!